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Domestic Violence Lawyers Toronto

November 2022

Defending a Domestic Violence Charge in Toronto

Unfortunately. domestic assault is a serious problem in Canada, with nearly 200,000 incidents reported yearly. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, it is important to seek help from a domestic assault lawyer in Toronto.

A domestic violence lawyer can provide the legal support and guidance you need to protect your rights and safety. Domestic assault lawyers are also familiar with resources available to domestic violence victims in Toronto, so they can help you get the support you need to rebuild your life.

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What is Domestic Assault?

The definition of assault is found in section 265 of the Criminal Code and applies to all types of assault allegations, including domestic assault charges. Generally, an assault occurs when a person intentionally applies direct or indirect force to another person without the other person“s consent. 

An assault can also occur when a person threatens to or attempts to apply direct or indirect force to another intentionally. Hitting, kicking, punching, or even pushing a person without consent may be considered an assault. An assault doesn't require someone to cause injury to another.

A domestic assault is an assault accusation between «intimated partners» who are either current or former spouses, common-law partners, or dating partners. Where an assault occurs between two people who share one of these relationships mentioned above, the matter is labelled as a «domestic assault» case. It will be prosecuted quite differently from other assault allegations.  

According to the Crown Policy Manual, a document by the Attorney General detailing how Crown prosecutors are to perform their duties in court, Crown Attorneys are instructed to prosecute domestic violence offences as vigorously as other serious criminal matters.

Although the Criminal Code doesn’t contain a distinct “domestic assault” charge, in many jurisdictions, domestic assault cases are separately identified and prosecuted by a specialized team of prosecutors. Crown Attorneys must consider the safety of domestic violence complainants and their families as paramount at all stages of the prosecution.

Recent Criminal Code changes instruct judges and prosecutors to act more harshly towards people accused of intimate partner violence at every stage of a criminal proceeding, including the bail and sentencing stages. In the bail context, a judge is now required to consider whether someone is charged with an offence where actual, attempted, or threatened violence was used against an intimate partner. 

At the sentencing stage, the Judge must now consider violence against an intimate partner or the family member of the victim or offender as an aggravating factor in sentencing. This means that Judges are instructed to impose harsher sentences for someone who committed an assault against a domestic partner.

Internal police policies dictate that in almost all situations, the police are expected to charge a person alleged to have assaulted another in a domestic context regardless of whether or not independent proof of the crime exists, such as visible injuries or witnesses to the crime. A person’s word - even without ANY other evidence - is enough for police to lay a charge.

How Serious are Domestic Violence Charges?

Domestic assault charges are severe and can have long-lasting consequences. In Canada, a person convicted of domestic assault faces up to five years in prison and hefty fines and other criminal penalties.

Additionally, the stigma associated with being charged with domestic assault can impact your life even after serving your sentence. That's why it's so important to contact a qualified domestic assault lawyer if you're facing these charges. A good lawyer will be able to help you understand the process and build a strong defence that could reduce or eliminate the charges against you.

How to Defend Against a Domestic Assault Charge

If you've been charged with domestic assault, it's important to understand the legal process and how to defend yourself. The first step is to hire a domestic assault lawyer who can help you navigate the court system. In Toronto, several experienced domestic assault lawyers can help you build a defense.

The next step is to gather evidence that will support your defense. This may include character witnesses, medical records, and other documentation that can help prove your innocence. Your lawyer will be able to help you identify what evidence is most relevant to your case.

Once you have gathered the evidence, your lawyer will work with you to develop a legal strategy. This may involve negotiating with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or sentence or trialing the case. If you are facing a domestic assault charge, it's important to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can help you mount a strong defense.

What are possible defenses against domestic assault charges?

The possible defenses against domestic assault charges will depend on the specific facts of your case.

Generally speaking, the most common defenses used by domestic assault lawyers in Toronto are self-defense, consent, and duress.

If you claim that you were acting in self-defense at the time of the alleged incident, your lawyer can help you prove that the other person posed an immediate threat to your safety or property. In many cases, this is enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that there was no intent to commit a criminal act.

If you claimed both parties consented to physical contact or violence during an argument, your lawyer can also help you build a strong defense based on mutual consent. To successfully establish this defense, your lawyer must demonstrate that both parties agreed to the physical contact or violence and that there was no threat of harm.

Finally, if you were forced into committing a criminal act by someone else’s threats or coercion, then you may be able to use duress as a valid defense in court. Your lawyer can help you prove that the other person’s threats created an immediate fear of physical injury or death and that these threats caused you to commit the alleged criminal act.

What is a peace bond, and why are they offered in spousal violence cases?

A peace bond is a court order that requires one party to keep the peace and be of good behaviour towards another person. In Canada, they are commonly used in cases involving spousal violence or domestic assault.

Peace bonds can help protect victims of spousal violence by ordering the assailant to stay away from them, refrain from communicating with them or participate in some counselling program. They can also restrict the assailant's access to firearms or other weapons.

Prosecutors typically offer peace bonds as part of plea agreements in domestic assault cases. This allows defendants to avoid serving jail time while still being held accountable for their actions and protecting victims from further harm. It is important to have an experienced legal professional who can help you understand the terms of a peace bond and ensure that you comply with its conditions.

What to Do if You Are Arrested for Domestic Assault

If you are arrested for domestic assault in Toronto, you should first call a domestic assault lawyer. Domestic assault lawyers are experienced in handling these types of cases, and they can help you navigate the legal process. They will also be able to advise you on what to expect during your trial, and they can help you prepare for your defense. In addition, a domestic assault lawyer can help you understand the possible consequences of a domestic assault conviction, and they can help you decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial. 

If you are facing domestic assault charges, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A domestic assault lawyer can help you protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair trial.

What if I am trying to get a divorce and am charged with domestic assault?

If you are charged with domestic assault while in the process of getting a divorce, your lawyer can help you understand how the charge may affect your case. In some cases, criminal charges related to spousal violence or domestic abuse can carry serious penalties and affect child support payments or other important aspects of a divorce settlement.

Your lawyer can advise you on possible defenses and negotiations with prosecutors that may help minimize the impact of the charge on your divorce proceedings. It is important to have an experienced legal team who understands family law and criminal court proceedings to protect your rights during this difficult time.

The Importance of Having a Criminal Lawyer Represent You in Court

When you are charged with a crime, it is important to have a criminal lawyer represent you in court. A criminal lawyer will be able to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair trial. They will also be able to negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf and obtain the best possible outcome for your case. In some cases, a criminal lawyer may even be able to have the charges against you dropped altogether. If you are facing criminal charges, hiring a qualified criminal lawyer who will fight for your rights and ensure that you receive a fair trial is essential.

Steps to Take if Someone You Know is Being Abused

Abusive relationships can be extremely damaging, both physically and emotionally. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, you must be supportive and offer help. Here are some steps you can take to assist:

1. Listen and believe them. It's important to create a safe space for the person to open up about their experiences. Let them know that you believe them and that they are not alone.

2. Help them develop a safety plan. This could include arranging a place to stay, getting a domestic assault lawyer, or creating a code word to use if they need to leave quickly.

3. Encourage them to seek professional help. This could mean meeting with a therapist or attending a support group.

4. Offer practical assistance. This could involve things like babysitting, transportation, or financial assistance.

5. Be patient and understanding. Recovery from an abusive relationship takes time and it's important to be respectful of the person's pace.

If you have been arrested or is being investigated for domestic assault, you must contact a criminal lawyer immediately. A conviction for domestic assault can result in jail time, a fine, and a permanent criminal record. There are many ways to defend against a domestic assault charge, but the most important thing is to have an experienced criminal lawyer. If someone you know is being abused, you can encourage them to get help from a local crisis center or victim assistance program. Taking these steps can help protect victims of domestic violence and ensure that their abusers are held accountable for their actions.

Domestic Violence Charges: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a criminal lawyer and a civil lawyer?

Criminal lawyers specialize in criminal defense and are experienced in handling cases involving misdemeanours, felonies, and other criminal matters. They represent people accused or charged with a crime in court. On the other hand, a civil lawyer deals mostly with civil disputes between two or more parties. These disputes involve contractual agreements, torts (wrongful acts), negligence claims, and property disputes. Civil lawyers advise clients about their legal rights and obligations in these cases and help them navigate the legal process. Criminal and civil lawyers are essential for providing justice within our society.

What are the consequences of a domestic assault conviction?

The consequences of a domestic assault conviction in Toronto will depend on the circumstances of the case, such as if there was an injury or weapon involved. Generally, a person convicted of a domestic assault charge could face jail time and fines, mandatory counselling, a restraining order against them enforced by the court, probation for up to three years, and/or community service. Additionally, they may be required to surrender any firearms or weapons in their possession and complete anger management programs. A conviction can also have long-term effects on your life, such as affecting your ability to get jobs or volunteer positions. It's important to seek legal advice if you are facing domestic assault charges. A lawyer can help you understand the potential consequences of a conviction and develop an effective defense strategy.

How can I help someone who is being abused?

If someone you know is being abused, you can provide them with emotional support and encourage them to get help from a local crisis centre or victim assistance program. It’s important to create a safe space for the person to open up about their experiences and let them know that they are not alone. Additionally, depending on the situation, you may be able to offer practical assistance such as providing transportation, financial aid, or babysitting services. If the abuse has escalated to criminal behavior, it’s important to contact law enforcement immediately. Finally, remember that recovery from an abusive relationship takes time and patience; be respectful of the person's pace as they work towards healing.

Can you explain the legal process for domestic assault cases?

The legal process for domestic assault cases can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specifics of each individual case. Generally, a police officer will investigate the incident and take statements from those involved before determining whether or not to make an arrest. If an arrest is made, the accused individual will be taken into custody, typically until they are arraigned in court. During arraignment proceedings, charges are filed against the accused and a plea is entered. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may proceed to trial or enter into negotiations for a plea bargain. Throughout this process, it's important to have experienced legal counsel who can protect your rights and ensure that justice is served.

What should I do if I am arrested for domestic assault?

If you are arrested for domestic assault in Toronto, you should remain calm and contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can explain your rights to you and help protect them during the legal process. It's important not to make any statements or sign documents without consulting your attorney first. Additionally, it's wise to avoid speaking with family members or friends who may be involved in the case until after consulting with your lawyer. Finally, if bail has been set, arrange payment promptly so you can be released while awaiting trial.

Author: Titan LLP